Unit 3 & Part II of “Dead Reckoning”

Consensus from the course assessment

Thanks to those of you who took the time to add comments to the anonymous course evaluation. If you haven’t seen the full results, please take a look. What follows are some of the points of consensus that I could glean from them:

1. What’s the most significant skill related to writing & tech that you have you learned in this class so far?

In short, the top three were: (1) learning fact-checking skills, (2) expanding knowledge of WordPress to build websites, and (3) using hypothesis for annotation. Here’s the most co-signed comment from this question:

I really like using WordPress, but for me, I believe that fact-checking is the most significant skill that I learned to use in this class so far. Technology, the internet, and social media are very big in this day in age. People find things within the internet and social media all the time without knowing if the source of the information is credible or not. I think it is important for all of those who wish to use these platforms to have an understanding of this and to be able to identify what information is real and what isn’t.  👍👍👍👍👍x4

2. What would you like to have learned that we did not cover (or learn more about)?

Responses to this question were helpful and offered a range of ideas: being asked to watch more documentaries, creating multimodal forms of writing (like podcasts and videos), and a request or two to learn html coding. But a large majority of students commented on wanting more opportunities to expand their use of WordPress in order to learn more of its features and capabilities. Here’s a representative quote:

I like creating assignments via WordPress. Although I already know a lot about it, I think there is always more that I can learn about the program itself. Whenever I do use WordPress, I am always so proud of the end result and what I created. I would not be opposed to using WordPress throughout the next unit.  👍👍

3. Do you feel you’ve been supported in your learning? Why or why not?

Your comments made me blush, but I really wanted to ask this because I was growing concerned that some felt that the course was not welcoming enough to perspectives outside of my progressive/leftist identity. As I’ve mentioned, racist/homophobic/intolerant speech is never welcome and I share my perspective with you to be honest and direct about my politics; that said, if you have a perspective that challenges our ideas, that could be helpful. Dissent is necessary. And if I can encourage that, I want to know. Anyway, here’s a quotation that was co-signed a lot:

I definitely do feel supported in my learning. I always feel much more comfortable asking questions when a professor is understanding, willing to listen to what you’re saying, and wants to help, and Jason definitely is/does all of these things. I also feel like he does his best to create lessons/assignments that are interesting to his students, which I really appreciate because I feel like the homework is not only thought-provoking but also does help me to learn.👍👍x4

4. What has been challenging about this course?

Responses to this question were fascinating and I’m still processing them. One student said that nothing in the class was challenging (eek!) while another student said “the amount of work is challenging and we move extremely fast. Sometimes I feel that I can’t keep up or process what we’re learning and then we’ve already moved on to the next thing.” One common response was that that many of you struggle having homework due for each class meeting, so I’m rethinking how I structure the course’s work in Spring 2020 (no help to you, I realize). Here’s a quote that was co-signed, though, and resonated with me for its middle ground:

There have been some lengthier readings that are a bit challenging to finish on time, but these seem to be few and far between. As someone who has reached upper level, major-specific courses this course, comparatively, is easier than my other courses. However, I still feel like I am learning. While I might not necessarily feel very challenged I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time either. X4 👍

5. Would you recommend any changes to the course either for Unit 3 or in the future?

These varied a lot so I couldn’t detect any true consensus. So let’s look at these together and talk about them in class. Before we do, here are two action items I propose moving into Unit 3.

Action items for Unit 3:

1. I added a requirement that your groups will use WordPress to blog about your research and share media, discussion questions, and counter-technology with the class.

2. I will not collect any homework between now and when your group presents. I will instead offer “benchmarks” for you so you can maximize your efficiency and that the conversations in class make sense. Likewise, if your group uses its time wisely, you can minimize the amount of outside work that will be necessary.

3. I got rid of a requirement that asked groups to lead discussion online (Twitter, FB, hypothes.is) prior to the in-class discussion. Instead, I want you to share one reading ahead of time and then play some media in class to get students on board before we discuss the issue and strategy. This will make more sense when we review the assignment.

4. I totally abandoned the Unit 2 video essay assignment and have no plans to incorporate it into Unit 3. It’s just too much to ask of you at this point in the semester. However, if your group wants to develop a video for your counter-technology in Unit 3, that’s most welcome, though.

Unit 3: Strategies of intervention

Let’s review the Unit 3 assignment and get you into your teams.

Mapping the strategies (and their challenges)

Activity: Part 2 of “Dead Reckoning” articulates several strategies of intervention “being offered by industry, government, and NGOs to the broad sphere of problematic content online” (16). Groups 1-4: work together to map these on this chart. Group 5: look to the annotations in hypothes.is to see what else students have said about these strategies.

  • How do the authors define this strategy? If there are different versions of this strategy name them.
  • Rank who has control (or should) when carrying out or implementing this strategy.
  • What examples or case studies does this section provide for attempts at using this strategy?
  • What are the challenges or drawbacks to using or enforcing this strategy?
  • What keywords or phrases would you use when researching this strategy? List a bunch.
  • Share an update on this strategy by searching some aspect of it in Google News. Summarize the update and include a link.

Benchmarks for Thursday

Exchange info with your team so y’all know how to get in touch with each other. On Thursday we begin to explore ideas for this final project.